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Leg length liver link

18th December 2007

People with short legs may have an increased risk of liver disease, a new study suggests.

British researchers found that women with longer legs are more likely to have low levels of enzymes that indicate liver damage.

Their study, published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggests that greater height may boost the size of the liver, which in turn could decrease enzyme levels.

This would ensure the liver is better equipped to cope with chemical onslaughts.

The correlation between leg length and liver disease is also proposed to be a result of factors in childhood such as good nutrition that influence growth progression and liver development.

The researchers studied almost 4,300 women aged between 60 and 79 who were randomly selected from 23 British towns.

Standing and seating height were measured and blood samples taken to measure levels of four liver enzymes: ALT, GGT, AST and ALP.

The longer the leg length, the lower the levels of these enzymes were found to be.

ALT levels were lowest among women with the longest legs while ALP and ALT were highest among women with the shortest trunk length.

“Taken together, evidence suggests that there are common childhood influences on liver development and the adult risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease,” the researchers conclude.

“Further studies with detailed measures of early life exposures would be valuable in identifying the specific exposures contributing to the documented associations of leg length with adult levels of liver enzymes and disease.”

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